Last week, Arvig issued a media advisory about an unauthorized third-party processing Arvig payments. We were grateful to see so many media outlets cover the alert to inform people they don’t need to use these sorts of payment options to pay their Arvig bill. Since this information was shared with the public, that company has been contacting us and at least some members of the media in our service area to refute the information we shared with you as “false and damaging.” It is important that you know that we did not make any false claims. Arvig has not authorized this company to accept payments on our behalf. Below is the background and what has happened in the past serveral days to help shed some light on the full story.
A customer searched for “pay Arvig bill” and the website of this third-party payment processing site came up in the results. The customer made the payment on the site which has the Arvig logo and other Arvig information on it, received a payment confirmation, and moved on. The next day, the customer called Arvig because services had been disconnected for non-payment. As we investigated the issue, we discovered that “users” of the third-party payment site can add Payees like Arvig at will. They can then pay their bill for a fee and the company will forward the check to the Payee for receipt within 3-5 days.
The problem comes when the customer believes they paid Arvig directly because the payment page is visually made to look like it belongs to Arvig. There is a disclaimer on the page that says, “DOXO is not an affiliate of Arvig. Logos and other trademarks within this site are the property of their respective owners. No endorsement had been given nor is implied.” Unfortunately, there are many studies that show that only 10 percent or fewer actually read this type of information.
In addition, Arvig did not authorize the use of our trademarked logo or online identity on this website. Making the payment page look like a legitimate Arvig page misleads the customer so they think they are on a page that is in some way linked to or authorized by Arvig, when it’s not.
Arvig issued the media alert last week after we became aware of the company as a direct result of helping the single customer, referenced above, navigate their billing troubles. It is incredibly important to us that we are transparent with our customers and communities. Even though we are currently only aware of this affecting one customer, we feel that all of our customers should know that Arvig had not authorized this third party to accept payments on our behalf, and that customers don’t need to pay another party in order to pay us online. We offer that service for free on our website.
Owners of the third-party site in question and they will claim that Arvig is opted into receiving payments via their service because we are opted into the MasterCard RPPS. However, our credit card processing consultant has advised us that while “there is no doubt that (the third-party processor) has a relationship with MasterCard to use MC’s RPPS.However, it’s not clear that by their use of MC’s RPPS–that extends therein the right for them to collect payments on behalf of Arvig without Arvig’s permission.”
Caitlin Stoecker, Corporate Communications